Crowds turned out to quiz MP hopefuls at a debate on the controversial subject of Trident and whether the nuclear arms programme should be renewed.
The Bedford and Kempston candidates addressed more than 100 people on the hot topic at St Andrew's Church Hall on Saturday during a meeting organised by the Bedford Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Labour's Patrick Hall was firmly against the renewal, which comes with a £100 billion price tag. He said the deadly weapon is too destructive to use -- it would damage the environment and millions of people.
He added that the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires the UK to move towards nuclear disarmament in good faith and the renewal of Trident would make others feel the need for weapons too.
The money would be better spent elsewhere, Patrick Hall said.
Mr Hall was one of the 161 MPs who voted against Trident at the House of Commons in 2007.
Liberal Democrat candidate Mahmood Rogers said Cold War conditions no longer apply and that the nucelar capability should be reduced. He said there would be less risk of accident if the warheads were stored on land rather than in submarines on continuous alert.
Commitment to the international NPT requires some reductions in nuclear weapons but Mr Rogers said some should be kept as security, while negotiating in the long term for multilateral nuclear disarmament.
Current Conservative MP Richard Fuller said £100 billion over 30 years seemed a lot but he claimed that the running cost of Trident would be £2 billion or so a year -- a small amount when compared with the total annual budget and a small price to pay for a deterrent in uncertain times.
The future of Trident is due to be decided in 2016. Bedford people responded with stirring energy to the challenge of the debate and a visitor from nearby Luton said people seemed to be really galvanised by the occasion.
Based on an article by Victoria West which appeared in the Bedfordshire Times & Citizen on 13 November 2014.